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Partick Thistle FC
Partick Thistle FC
Match Report

Heart of Midlothian v Partick Thistle – 5th March 2016

Thistle travelled to Tynecastle for the third game of a long week looking to turn the re-arranged fixture, originally scheduled for February, into points. It was a daunting task facing Alan Archibald’s side with Hearts sitting comfortable in third place in the table, a significant distance from the chasing pack, but the side arrived in Gorgie in plenty of confidence having emerged victorious at McDiarmid Park on Wednesday night.

Manager Alan Archibald was clearly pleased with the side’s performance during the week as he elected to field an unchanged starting eleven for the game at Tynecastle. The only change to the squad was on the substitute’s bench where Gary Fraser replaced Kevin Nisbet.

Hearts started the half in brighter fashion forcing a succession of early corners, without forcing Tomas Cerny into a save of note in the opening ten minutes.

Thistle were having a very quiet showing in front of the goal during the opening spell until in 11 minutes Mathias Pogba forced a tremendous one handed save from Neil Alexander in the Hearts goal. Steven Lawless flighted a ball to the back post which was met by the Guinean striker. His header was tipped over by the goalkeeper, via an intervention by the cross bar. From the resulting corner, David Amoo was just unable to bundle the ball home from close range after Dan Seaborne’s initial header fell in his direction around six yards out.

Thistle were beginning to enjoy more action in the home sides half and Pogba combined with Lawless inside the penalty area, but the winger, with just Alexander to beat, was unable to find the target with his attempt. It was a chance Thistle would come to regret.

Juanma was a constant threat for Hearts in the first half and he had the ball in the net after 15 minutes, but play was pulled back for a shove on Lindsay.

It was an entertaining game, stretching from end to end and Ozturk had a free kick which spun off the Thistle wall and out from a corner kick. Rossi met the delivery, only for Cerny to instinctively tip over the crossbar. From the second corner however, the Thistle goal was breached.

Djoum climbed highest at the back post and fired a powerful header beyond the despairing dive of Hearts.

The game descended into a scrappy match with the sides exchanging possession on a regular basis as Thistle strove to get back into the game. It was Hearts, however, who had the best chance of the remainder of the first half. Ozturk picked out Don Cowie with a clever free kick. The midfielder swung a cross to the back post where it was met by Igor Rossi. Thankfully for Thistle, the defender nodded his header the wrong side of the post.

The half ended on a sour note from a Thistle perspective. Stuart Bannigan showed great heart and desire to close down the Hearts goalkeeper deep inside his penalty area. In the process of clearing the ball, Thistle’s number 8 slipped on the surface and collapsed in pain to the turf. Despite trying to get back on the pitch to help his side, Bannigan’s efforts proved to be in vain and the management team will be hoping he isn’t missing for too long.

The second half wasn’t as end to end as the first but Thistle acquitted themselves well as they looked to get an equaliser. Steven Lawless was showing the same form as he did on Wednesday night, running away from defenders before firing a shot which didn’t trouble Neil Alexander.

Thistle were proving comfortable in defence, nullifying the menace of Juanma and were creating the better opportunities in the early stages of the second half. Thistle were firing over crosses, but the physicality of the Hearts defence mopped up many of the loose balls in the deep areas of the pitch.

Sam Nicholson, a thorn in Thistle’s side in each of the previous two meetings, had an opportunity from a tight angle when he rounded Tomas Cerny. His chipped cut back could only find the grateful arms of the goalkeeper as he recovered.

Thistle did a lot of huffing and puffing in the closing stages but, in truth, struggled to test the home goalkeeper as Hearts saw out the game to ensure the three points stayed in Gorgie. While the result was the same as the previous games against the Edinburgh side, the performance was much improved on the previous two showings.

Thistle drop down a place in the table, down to 8th, ahead of Tuesday night’s game against Aberdeen at Firhill.

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